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Kidney Tumor Ablation

Kidney tumors can be benign or cancerous. Most often, these tumors are caught incidentally on scans such as MRI or CT. The natural tendency of kidney cancer is to grow slowly. However, if left untreated, potential outcomes can be life-threatening.

Traditionally, malignant kidney tumors were managed surgically by removing the affected part or entire kidney. This can lead to long post-operative recoveries, possible complications and scars. With advances in modern medicine, this is no longer the rule. Minimally invasive, image-guided ablation offers an alternative to treat and cure kidney cancer in patients who do not desire major surgery or who cannot tolerate surgery due to other medical conditions such as lung, heart or chronic kidney disease. As with surgery, in most instances, the intent of ablation therapy is to cure the patient of kidney cancer without the need for chemotherapy.

Ablation therapy includes both heat-based therapy (microwave) and cold-based therapy (cryoablation) to induce tumor cell death.

Cryoablation

With cryoablation, an interventional radiologist uses imaging guidance, ultrasound or CT, to guide the placement of one or a few specialized needle-like probes through the skin into a kidney tumor. Because the needles are so small — 1-2 millimeters in diameter — no incision is required. Once the needles are in the correct position, liquid gas is passed through the needle to create a small region of ice. This causes thermal damage to the area, destroying the cancerous tissue, leaving behind debris that eventually dissolves on its own without the need for surgical treatment.

Microwave Ablation

Microwave ablation uses a similar process in which an interventional radiologist inserts a small needle-like probe into a kidney tumor, also guided by imaging. This technique uses microwave energy transmitted by the needle to create heat and destroy the tumor. The resulting debris also dissolves and is eventually flushed out by the body.

Benefits of Kidney Ablation

Ablation offers a number of advantages over traditional surgery. These minimally invasive procedures:

  • Involve only a small nick to the skin that requires no stitching to heal
  • Results in limited damage to surrounding kidney tissue
  • Is less expensive than surgical treatment options
  • Can be performed with local anesthesia and light sedation, potentially as a same-day outpatient procedure
  • Offers a quicker recovery period with return-to-normal activity in 1-2 days
  • Is an effective alternative when a patient is not considered fit enough to undergo surgery, including patients with underlying chronic kidney failure who need to preserve as much kidney function as possible

Kidney ablation treatments are available from Orlando Health interventional radiologists at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center. For more information, call (321)-841-8104